My Mea Culpa Self-Care

Photo by Jonathan Ridley on Unsplash

Self-care. It means something different to everyone because we all have unique needs. Some people like a hot bath, but hot baths make me feel like I am sitting in a soup of my own filth. Some people swear by massages, and while I appreciate an occasional massage, my idea of relaxing doesn’t often involve some stranger pawing at me while I’m vulnerable. Some people love a good weekend with their besties, but as an introvert the last thing I want to do to relax is hang out with a bunch of other women having “girl” time in a shared home where I also have to share a bedroom. For me, self-care is more like something you would see on Parks and Recreation; I’m all about the “treat yo’self” method of self-care.

So, today I treated myself to some time at my dermatologist’s office, spending a stupid amount of money to let them abuse me because I haven’t done that in six years. They pulsed light at me and then, just for fun, I let them poke needles into my face because why not? They have to numb you before they do these things because they are just that unpleasant. The best part about my self-care is that it will leave me looking like a swamp thing for a few days, which means I get to stay home and avoid other humans. It really is a win-win. In a week, my skin will look better and in a month it will look even better still. And then I can do it all over again before the holidays, so I can have some downtime away from people before, well, it’s time to spend more one-on-one time with people. Tonight I get to sleep sitting up. WIth any luck, I won’t wake up looking like a vole (beady eyes, puffy face) tomorrow from all the swelling. Yep. This is how I take care of myself. It’s a little twisted.

It makes sense to me that this is my chosen method of self-care, though. This is what happens when you are raised Catholic. This is my self-flagellation for the sins of second-degree sunburns as a fair-skinned teenager and time on tanning beds as a fair-skinned college student. This is my mea culpa, my ten Our Fathers and fifteen Hail Marys on the rosary of life. I am absolving myself of my sun sins with a promise to do better before my next confession, er, skin-check appointment with my dermatologist. Self-care is what works for you. For me, self-care is admitting my blunders and making amends so I can face myself in the mirror every day.

The Weekly Descent Into Zero F***s Given

It’s been a looooong week

I drive my son to and from school, thirty-five minutes one way. Yes. He is 18. He has had his learner’s permit for three years now, but hasn’t shown much interest in acquiring his driver’s license. I suspect this is mainly because the drivers in Denver are terrifying. We saw three near collisions this morning. People here speed and weave in and out of highway traffic like they’re Lightning McQueen. If you struggled with anxiety and saw multiple traffic accidents a day, you might prefer a chauffeur as well.

At any rate, I have noticed recently that as the week progresses, my preparedness for our morning commute diminishes. Allow me to elucidate:

Monday: After a weekend of rest and minimal driving, I am up and at ’em at 6:30. I will be dressed in actual clothes, have make up on, have prepared my own coffee and a smoothie, unloaded the dishwasher, and be ready to depart five minutes before our scheduled exit at 7:10. I rock!

Tuesday: I might have switched to casual jogger pants, rather than denim or decent shorts, but otherwise I am still fairly prepared for the day and presentable as a human being. We’ve got this.

Wednesday: I am moving a little more slowly. I am likely wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and little, if any, make up. I will just put sunglasses over the bags under my eyes and use them to disguise the obvious lack of mascara on my sparse, blonde eyelashes. Hubby, noticing that the struggle is real, hands me a latte to which I have just enough time to add some creamer. I will get through today.

Thursday: I am so dog tired. My attention to self-care has eroded to meh at best. I maybe put a bra on under my pajama top, throw on some leggings, pull my dirty hair into a disheveled ponytail, and call it good. I drag my sorry butt out to my car three minutes later than usual, but at least I have the latte hubby made me. I just have to make it home.

Friday: I am still in bed whining about having to get up twenty minutes after the alarm I set for ten minutes later than the day before has gone off. My audible Friday lament rings through the house: “I’m not getting up. You can’t make me.” I eventually drag myself out of bed with five minutes to go. I have just enough time for the bare minimum. I am wearing my pajama top with flannel pants on my bottom half, hard-soled slippers on my feet, and a baseball hat on my head. As I brush my teeth, I’ve got black silicone pads under my eyes working to reduce the 50-pound baggage there. I rip those off at 7:10, grab the coffee my husband long-since left on the counter for me before heading to his downstairs (no longer downtown) office. I stagger out to the car, back out of the garage, and then realize I’ve left my phone somewhere inside. I trudge back inside and look around until I find it under the covers on the bed, and we depart after 7:15 and pray there will not be much traffic. On the way there, I realize with chagrin I forgot to sweeten my coffee. Jesus help us all.

My prayer each week is that if one of the Richard Petty wannabes in Denver hits me on I-25, they will do so on Monday or Tuesday. If it’s on Wednesday, that will be okay too. But, I pity the fool who hits me on Thursday or Friday and has to deal with the exhausted, only semi-functioning swamp thing into which I have devolved.

This morning, however, as I slogged through traffic yawning the whole way, I had a glorious thought. This is my last year as chauffeur. Next year at this time, both sons will be off at college, and I will be free to start my day whenever it suits me. Preferably after a long shower and a leisurely, perfectly sweetened latte.